Chaplain’s thoughts …

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Thoughts about the holidays

With the exception of the retail environment, I love the month of December. Preceded by Thanksgiving, this month is filled with nostalgia and memories from my childhood.

Perhaps, you too, know the wonder of which I speak. We see it in the eyes of our children and long for just a bit of their joy as we celebrate the holidays from our less than idyllic position as parents. Perhaps it is our carefree memories from Christmas’s past that cause us to become overwhelmed as we try to celebrate our family traditions and customs.

Let’s be honest, holiday celebrations can be less than perfect. Perhaps it’s the family secret recipe that flops when you try to prepare it. Or perhaps the family member whose jovial demeanor disappears about the time the mashed potatoes run out. Maybe it’s just too much family time. Kids are out of school, and after a while this family togetherness thing gets to be just too much. You begin to long for the return of the professionals like childcare workers and school teachers who will take care of your kids. Then you feel guilty for thinking that thought. But you can’t “unthink” it. What are we to do?

Have you had some or all of these thoughts? Trust me, you are not alone. Holidays can be stressful, taxing and draining on so many levels. What to do? Let’s look at some basic survival skills for the holidays.

• Lower your expectations. Your memories of a perfect childhood are the memories of a child, not an adult. If you have pleasant memories of childhood holiday celebrations it is not because everything was perfect, it was because you remembered the good and were likely protected from much of the bad. Again, lower your expectations. You don’t have to have a “Perfect Christmas” for your children to have happy memories of your holiday celebrations. Just be together and do enough to create a good memory or two.

• Don’t drain the bank account. Your rug rats will play with the empty boxes more than the gift, so please don’t overspend. There is nothing wrong with essential items like socks and underwear for stocking stuffers. There’s nothing wrong with a new school outfit for a gift. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of simplicity for the holiday. Please don’t drain the bank account.

• Remember the reason for the season. So whether you celebrate the birth of the Christ child, or the rededication of the Temple, whatever holiday you observe, we invite you to focus upon the transcendent and eternal truths of your faith that make you a better person. Allow your celebrations to mold you into a more compassionate and caring person. Remember why and what you are celebrating.

Truth is, we could all use a bit of comfort and joy as we close out 2017 and enter into a New Year of opportunity and challenge.

May you and your family be truly blessed as you celebrate your faith with family and friends.

Thanks for your service and sacrifice.